After watching and examining the combine, I will be writing a few pieces on some thoughts on certain positional groups. Next up is Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. Let’s Dive In!
In a pass-happy NFL, you need talented receivers and some scouts believe that this is a weak class. Due to this, wide receivers could go higher off the board than expected due to worry of lack of overall talent. Let’s see who looked great during the combine:
John Ross (Washington)
Let’s start with the obvious marquee performance as John Ross ran a 4.22 in the 40-yard dash. He proved he can be an elite deep threat and reminded people of DeSean Jackson‘s type of play making ability on the outside. Teams that are desperate for speed to open up their offense will give him a serious look. He is also a bit of a question mark as the 40 was the only thing he could accomplish due to sustaining an injury. It will be interesting to see how high he can go in the Draft, which could be as high as #8 overall with the Panthers losing Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency.
Chris Goodwin (Penn State) & Amara Darboh (Michigan)
A pair of BIG10 receivers looked great during the on-field drills at the combine. They even ran sub 4.5 40’s which shocked me as I saw them as more slower possession receiver types. This elevated their draft stock as scouts knew that they had the skills to be decent receivers in the league and now they know they have speed to match.
Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky)
In this pass happy league, you need talented players at every receiving position including the slot position. In today’s NFL, you need a mismatch in the slot and Taylor can be that player. Quick, explosive, and a play maker in space makes Taylor a player to keep an eye on. If a team that uses the slot effectively drafts him, he could be a solid player.
Scouts believe this to be the best group of tight ends in many years, filled with more fantasy friendly receiver types than in-line classic blocking tight ends. We will likely see offenses change over to double tight end sets the next few years as these tight ends develop in the league. It will be more important than ever for defenses to get fast linebackers and bigger stronger safeties to take on this challenge.
O.J. Howard (Alabama)
He is an animal. Easily the tight end with highest upside we have seen in the Draft since Gronk. Remember that Gronk was not drafted in the 1st round due to injuries sustained during college. Howard may be the most athletic player pound-for-pound in this Draft. He made everything look easy during the combine and is getting Top 5 discussion.
Evan Engram (Mississippi)
He was receiving a ton of hype via the broadcast on NFL network and on Twitter during his workout at the combine. He will be looked at as the next slot TE hybrid that can be a receiving threat over the middle and in the redzone. He will get comparisons to Jordan Reed as we continue to get closer to the draft, due to his natural receiving skills and big frame.
Jake Butt (Michigan)
He didn’t work out but I have seen reports that he excelled in the interview process. Before getting injured, he was my favorite tight end in the Draft because he can still be the classic blocking tight end but also has soft natural receiving hands. He will earn a team’s interest for the long term and be a player like Jason Witten or Greg Olsen.
George Kittle (Iowa)
I am a sucker for Big10 tight ends and Kittle is my next mid-to-late round crush. He played in a pro-style offense and has key components to become a solid tight end in the NFL. He is a better than average pass-catcher and good in space with his hands or with blocking. There is plenty of potential here and will be a nice addition to a team looking for a developmental tight end that has a floor of being an average tight end in the league with a much higher upside.
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